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  1. Great video of the flag jump. Very helpful. The only thing that gave me pause was at pull time when he had that long trailing flag as his pilot chute and d-bag were moving past it -- I wonder if that's an entanglement hazard? --Mark
  2. Cloggy, Perhaps. The fabric option (of some sort) seems a lot easier to manage all the way around -- if I can keep it flat enough to read. Ideally, I'd just attach something like tennis balls to the bottom corners and pull it taut that way to avoid the rigid stick/rod at the bottom and make pull time safer, and safer if it gets dropped. --Mark
  3. Interesting thoughts, but I'd like to hear more from people who have actually carried a sign in freefall -- like BartsDaddy. Nothing like experience to learn the actual do's/don'ts. --Mark
  4. Base283, Very good point that I hadn't considered. If you lose one grip (as you will have to at pull time), it would indeed be flipping around a lot. Much to think about. --Mark
  5. BD, OK, that's super useful info. I'm surprised double-layer cardboard would be strong enough, so that tells me a lot about how strong a rigid sign would need to be (not as much as I thought). Also very useful to understand the exit and to know that your friend was able to hold onto it at pull time without fouling up his body position for deployment. Thanks for the input. Thoughts from others who have done this? --Mark
  6. The key is to understand that we're talking about two different modes of skydiving here -- tandems and student solos. The minimum age for tandems has always been set by the tandem equipment manufacturers through their authority to issue certifications on their equipment. And the US manufacturers have always set their minimum at 18. And USPA has supported that position by requiring a tandem student's age to meet the manufacturer's requirement. In contrast, the minimum age to enter a solo student program (like static line or AFF) at a USPA group member DZ is set by USPA. In the past, it was allowed at age 16 with parental consent. That changed in 2014. Below is the Parachutist "Gearing Up" notice discussing this change. As for Mike's DZ: For his own reasons, West Tennessee Skydiving (WTS) is not a USPA group member, despite Mike being a USPA board member and his DZ observing all the BSRs (18 is indeed WTS's minimum age for entering the student solo program). The French Tandem rig and Aussie TI are the keys to his DZ being able to offer tandems to minors while still staying in compliance with the BSRs. And for what it's worth, my wife and I have found WTS to have a very safety-conscious atmosphere, including observing USPA's requirement for a separate landing areas for high performance landings. We wouldn't have taken our son to any DZ that didn't take skydiving safety seriously. Gearing Up, April 2014 Ed Scott At what age should a person be allowed to skydive? At its most recent meeting, USPA’s board of directors decided the age should be 18 effective May 1. Anyone under 18 who has made a jump prior to that date may continue skydiving as long as they acquire a USPA A license by the last day of 2014. Anyone under 18 who is already licensed by May 1 can continue skydiving without condition. USPA has struggled with this issue for decades. As early as 1963, the minimum age was 21, or 16 with notarized parental consent. In 1970, USPA changed the Basic Safety Requirements to apply the age of majority (which each state establishes separately) as the minimum but kept 16 as the minimum with parental consent. In 1983, the board dropped the age to 18 but still retained the 16-with-consent rule. The history of the age-minimum BSR—21, age of majority and 18—reveals a concern more with liability than with safety even as early as the 1960s, before the explosive rise in lawsuits and court-awarded settlements. For the past few years, USPA’s board continued to struggle with the issue. Others did as well. When the Federal Aviation Administration first allowed tandem jumps under an exemption process, one condition was that participants were to be at least the age of 18. In 2001, when the FAA finally incorporated tandem jumps into Part 105 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, removing their FAA-exemption status, the manufacturers implored USPA to adopt new BSR language that required compliance with any age limit set by the tandem manufacturers. Early drafts of revised Part 105 also showed FAA interest in putting a minimum age for all skydivers in the FARs, a provision that USPA successfully eliminated. Why should USPA be concerned about minors jumping? In many if not most states, minors cannot be a party to legal contracts, including the hold-harmless agreements (commonly but erroneously called “waivers”) used by DZs; it goes against public policy. DZ owners would never allow anyone to jump at their facilities without signing a waiver. Yet that is exactly what they do when they let a minor jump, since the courts in those states will not recognize the waiver. “Then let the DZ owner decide,” some say. We have, and some DZOs let minors jump. And that means that everyone listed on the DZ waiver—the pilots, riggers, packers, instructors, aircraft provider, parachute equipment manufacturers and dealers, as well as USPA—are left without the defense and protection of a waiver when an injured minor or the estate of a minor decides to go to court for redress. USPA’s board is all about promoting skydiving and opening the sport up to any and all who have the desire and ability to participate. In a less litigious society, most on the board would agree that skydiving offers today’s youth opportunities way beyond the virtual world many of them inhabit. But lawyers and litigation and million-dollar judgments are a reality. And so USPA’s board took action to limit our sport’s liability and thus the litigation. And most agree that it is a damn shame. Blue Skies, Ed Scott | D-13532 | USPA Executive Director --Mark
  7. Bob, Nope, not thoughts to be conveyed during freefall, but it does actually need to be a video for best emotional impact, so photoshopping not an option. And what you mentioned ("a lot of jumps to get a shot") is what I'm afraid of (along with safety issues). Though I suppose having to make a lot of skydives is not a bad thing -- would be fun. To avoid wasted videographer jumps, my wife could just slide back 10 feet and see if she can read it in freefall. Keep doing that till we get it right, THEN hire a video guy to do it. Appreciate the photoshop suggestion. I still need advice on the ideal ways to handle exit, pull time, etc. Though if it's a fabric sign I suppose that solves most of those problems. --Mark
  8. Enrico and IJ, Good thoughts. I was indeed wondering if a rigid sign would hold up and how to deal with it safely. And I hadn't thought of a fabric sign because I thought it would be hard to keep it flat and legible while it's flapping around. Perhaps that's the ticket. Hopefully some people who have actually done this will chime in. And you're right -- freeflyers with tubes would have good experience with what to do at pull time. --Mark
  9. Hey everyone, I could use some advice, tips, warnings, etc. on carrying a sign in freefall. I’m thinking of the typical “Will You Marry Me?” type sign (though my wife might insist that it say something else – ). So questions: 1) What material? I’m thinking the thin, lightweight corrugated plastic with rounded corners so it’s not dangerous if it gets dropped. 2) How big is manageable? I’m thinking 24” wide x 12” tall, with oval holes in each end for handholds. 3) How do you exit? Holding the sign with two hands or one? Where do you hold it – against your stomach? 4) How difficult is it to keep the sign vertical in freefall while staying stable? 5) What do you do at pull time? Drop it (seems like a bad idea), hold it in your left hand, or what? 6) I assume you need to exit last so there’s no risk of someone colliding with the sign if it gets loose? 7) Other safety / logistics concerns? In general I’d appreciate thoughts from jumpers who have done this or assisted others in doing it. Thanks in advance. --Mark
  10. Hi Everyone, Just thought I'd pass along my recent customer service experiences with Mirage and Sunpath. First Sunpath: I needed some webbing that only Sunpath stocked. I called Bill Rafferty at Sunpath and asked if he could sell me various lengths of webbing. I was expecting a polite "no" -- something along the lines of "We don't do that." But nope -- he was extremely helpful -- even going to the stockroom and checking to see if they had it -- and the webbing shipped out the next day! Wow -- great company (thanks Bill)! Based on that experience, I strongly suspect they would be a great company to buy a container from. Next Mirage: My family needed some new gear and because we've always owned Mirages, we chose to buy them again. We worked with Dawn English and Bob Beck at Mirage and they were fantastic. We had all kinds of unusual requests and Dawn and Bob patiently worked through all of them, and then spent a great deal of time getting us measured (we were able to stop by the factory during a trip to Florida). Dawn kept bringing out all manner of different harnesses and having us try them on and then checking for just the right fit. And later Bob spent a lot of time checking and double-checking the order forms we had filled out and actually caught several errors and called to discuss what we actually wanted. Just really great attention to detail and customer service. So in summary, I would highly recommend both these container manufacturers to anyone pondering new gear. --Mark
  11. Cliffs, You can do a tandem skydive with a parent's signature from age 14-up at West Tennessee Skydiving in Somerville, Tennessee (about an hour east of Memphis). This is the home of Mike Mullins' super king air (great plane) and a very nice drop zone (pool, indoor packing, showerhouse, covered BBQ area, etc.). Link to the DZ's website is Mike is a USPA board member and former FedEx pilot. He is able to provide the tandems because he specifically employs an Australian TM (who has an Australian Parachute Federation license) who uses a French tandem rig from a manufacturer that does not have the 18 age requirement. The TM is a really nice guy with excellent qualifications. I can state all this with absolute certainty as my wife and I took our 16 year old son there twice to do tandems (he has 6 at WTS) to see if he was truly interested in the sport. Yep -- you should have seen the grin on his face when he came down from the first one! He will turn 18 this July and is scheduled to start AFF on the day he turns 18. Hope this helps. --Mark
  12. Paddy, several commenters have already spoken eloquently about the need to be responsible and balanced in all aspects with regard to skydiving (money, time with family, risk, insurance, etc.) and the other pursuits in your life, so I won't comment further on that. What I can offer is that skydiving and a family don't have to be exclusive. I've enjoyed the sport since college and then got my girlfriend (now wife) into it not long after that. We both have demanding full-time jobs and we have a (now) 17-year old son that we've spent a great deal of time raising, yet we still jump as often as we can (sometimes we have a blast just fooling around with each other in freefall). Of course you'll notice by my jump numbers that indeed we haven't been able to spend a ton of time at the DZ, but we still enjoy it. And now our son is ready to start AFF in July. He has 6 tandems (minors can do tandems at Mullins' DZ in TN) and right now we're spending some money to get him prepped in the tunnel so he'll get the most out of his AFF. My point is simply this: skydiving can be a fun part of a parent or spouse's life as long you treat the risk with respect and make sure the hobby fits with all your other responsibilities and obligations. Hope you're able to fit skydiving into your life. --Mark
  13. Hey this rolling method looks really interesting. Now, normally I would cast a skeptical eye on such an unusual method, but the fact that Jay M uses it lends a lot of credibility to it. This question was asked before, but does anyone know if PD approves this method, or if other highly experienced jumpers use it? Maybe I need to email PD. --Mark
  14. Hi KN, Below is a link to an excellent PD article on first canopies and some of the questions you've asked (there's also a Part 2 article on PD's website). It's a little dated, but the principles haven't changed. --Mark